Oh sweet, merciful Crom…..Jerry Ahern’s ‘The Survivalist‘ series is now available for Kindle and other electronic readers. I..I..have no words.
Wait, yes I do.
‘Amazed’, theres a word. I gotta hand it to Ahern…rather than write something new for the contemporary audiences like ,Rawles did (or does, I suppose), he simply re-issues his thirty-year-old pulp series in the new, low-overhead e-reader format. High margins, low effort. Brilliant, actually.Hopefully he’ll make enough money to cover his nut from that Victor Kiam (‘I ‘liked it so much I bought the company’) episode he had with Detonics.
Now, don’t get me wrong…when I was a kid, I devoured this series of ‘mens adventure’. Amazingly, Ahern managed to ride this horse all the way into the nineties. But, when I read it now, while it is still fun it is also way, way, way over the top and a virtual masturbatory extravaganza of gear-porn. (And thats 1980’s-era gear, folks….no .40 S&W, no plastic guns, no computers beyond an Apple II, etc.) His style of writing has become a tongue-in-cheek joke for writers who elaborate on unneccesary detail to provide ‘fan service’ regarding gear and guns. (You could make a drinking game out of looking for ‘Metalifed Python’, ‘A.G. Russel Sting’, ‘Alessi shoulder rig’, and ‘Detonics’. Empty the entire pitcher when he ‘whispers’ something that any other normal person would say in a regular talking voice.)
Still, this series is a guilty pleasure for me. A buddy of mine has the complete series in paperback. He spent a good bit of time and coin running ‘em all down on eBay. I’m tempted to buy the series and dump it into my phone or iPad just for fun.I remember reading these books when I was 13 and I would be lying if I said these didn’t have some influence on myinterest in preparedness. If you’ve never read the series before, it’s fairly straightforward (for the first nine books or so) – the main character is an ubersurvivalist, surgeon, ex-CIA guy, and all-around ubermensch with the perfect bunker. When WW3 breaks out he’s caught away from home and has to find his way back and reunite his family while fighting Russians, looters, ‘brigands’, rogue military, and all sortsa direct-from-casting post-apocalyptic archetypes. Throw in a few colorful supporting characters and you have your ensemble cast ready for action. Once the post-WW3 plotline started to get repetitive a twist was added in…the world really does come to an end, but thanks to a secret government program our heroes cryogenically doze through it and awake 500 years in the future to start the world over. Hijinks ensue.
I know, I know..it sounds like I’m really down on this series and in some ways I am but it was really a lot of fun and it brings back a huge amount of nostalgia for me.
As an aside, let me throw out a pet peeve. In much later books, Chinese-made copies of the Glock turn up. However, the first ‘Survivalist’ book takes place right around the actual time the book was published – 1981. Gaston Glock didn’t even have a prototype until 1982….a year after the nukes fly in this book. So, the likelihood of the Glock ever having been made in this ‘Ahernverse’ are pretty slim. But, hey, they’re still a lot of fun to read. Cheesey and campy, in my opinion, but back in the day it was cutting edge survivalist literature….
As I said, I make fun of it but it was really a fun and entertaining read. I recommend it for it’s novelty and entertainment value as well as for a bit of history…back in the early ’80s this is what we thought the end of the world was going to look like – a big nukefest between the Soviets and US. What a difference 30 years makes.